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Simple and Hard—Concepts for Clowning

Here’s a basic concept. Clowns make the simple hard, and the hard simple. Incorporate this concept in your performances and you’ll gain wonderful response. Make the simple hard, and the hard simple.Many clowns in the United States seem to be totally satisfied with only making the simple hard! They fail and fail and fail. Their stupidity is clear. Honestly, the audience doesn’t want to see you fail again and again and then watch you walk out hopeless. They want to see you succeed!

Greg Goldston, master mime, says, Show me something your grandma can’t do. Clowns should be able to perform beyond the normal person. Clowns should give the impression that they can do something out of the ordinary. They take the hard and make it simple. Incorporate a magic trick or develop a skill (such as juggling, cartooning, balloon sculpture, balancing, music performance, etc.) This helps create that magical unique persona of the clown.

There may some skills you learned as a child that you may still use today. Think back. Did you hula hoop? Play a ukulele? Hit targets with spit wads and a straw? Is there anyway you may use these in a clownish fashion?

In clowning, the audience laughs and enjoys it when you fail (making the simple hard). But, if you will then succeed (making the hard simple), your audience will appreciate your performance even more!

So, in closing, I encourage you to not be satisfied with simply failing in front of your audience…even on purpose. Learn some tricks and skills so that your audience will be able to cheer you on in triumph! Look for ways to make the simple hard, and the hard simple.   

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Randy Christensen has taught clowning and creative communication methods at various local, regional and national workshops, and performed in 25 states and 4 foreign countries. Randy has authored over 20 books on clowning, variety arts methods, and children's ministry. He has over a hundred published articles in various children's ministry and entertainer publications. He is a past columnist for the notable "Laugh Makers" periodical; the official journal of the International Association of Family Entertainment Professionals. Randy currently works full-time overseeing children's programming at a local church in Willmar, Minnesota.